Barcelona in crisis as rumors of discontent emerge following Champions League defeat

The fallout of Barcelona's latest loss continues as rumors emerged of discontent across all levels of the club.

UEFA Champions League 2023/24Royal Antwerp FC v FC Barcelona
UEFA Champions League 2023/24Royal Antwerp FC v FC Barcelona / ANP/GettyImages
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We all knew the knives would be out following Barcelona's embarrassing 3-2 loss to Royal Antwerp in the Champions League.

Though the veracity of those claims would be up in the air.

In any case, it didn't take long for "reports" to start popping up of discontent between the players and Xavi Hernandez and between Xavi and sporting director, Deco and even a heated phone call between Deco and Frenkie de Jong

One report claimed there was an altercation over the phone between Deco and De Jong where the former questioned the latter's excuse for missing the game against Antwerp. De Jong didn't travel because he had a fever.

However, Sport's Toni Juanmartí debunked that claim, stating that while there was a phone call between the two parties, it was De Jong who initiated it to update Deco on how he was doing. Deco reportedly told De Jong to rest and that the phone was a friendly one in nature.

The second claim, and one that seems more plausible, is there is a group of players who are increasingly fed up with Xavi singling them out after losses and poor performances. That group is composed of veterans like Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gundogan, Raphinha, Frenkie de Jong and Ferran Torres. They believe Xavi should be more self-critical.

Furthermore, Joan Laporta's involvement has only served to undermine the faith they have in Xavi as a manager. If you're wondering what that involvement could be, it's Laporta changing up the squad list for the Antwerp game. Initially, Lewandowski, Gundogan, De Jong and Ronald Araujo were not going to travel and instead given a rest.

Ultimately, three of those four traveled to Belgium with Lewandowski and Gundogan featuring. Araujo was given a rest and not included in the squad for the game.

The supposed rift between Deco and Xavi also stems from the change in the squad list. When asked about why they made the change, Xavi said it was a consensus decision made between himself, Deco and Laporta. When Deco was asked about it, he said it was Xavi's decision and they don't get involved in those matters.

Those words from Deco upset Xavi, causing some tension in their relationship.

During his short tenure with Barcelona, Deco has come across as more open in his declarations. Certainly more than Mateu Alemany and Jordi Cruyff.

For those on the outside looking in, it might be a welcome change but it certainly can get you in trouble and damage relationships which it apparently has.

The situation at Barcelona is a delicate one. The media and the back-and-forth is heavy at the best of times and with the team going through a rough patch, it's only going to be elevated to greater heights. There has to be someone to blame and that onus is, rightly or wrongly, falling on Xavi.

As a former player, Xavi knows the drill. He won't it find it helpful but he knew what he was getting into when he took over. He knew the expectations would only increase given the additions Barcelona made this season. On paper, it's a better team than it was last season even if the results don't reflect that.

Everyone is free to believe what they want but as the old saying goes "where there's smoke, there's fire."

One can believe the players are tired of being singled out and that the contradictions between Xavi's word and Deco's has created tension between them.

The only thing that will stop these reports is for the team to win and perform better. That is something both Xavi and the players can control. The only question is if the relationship between Xavi and his players is too damaged where his words now go out one ear and out the other.

Next. Antwerp stuns Barcelona with late winner, leaving Xavi Hernandez under pressure. Antwerp stuns Barcelona with late winner, leaving Xavi Hernandez under pressure. dark

We'll see how Barcelona respond when they take on Valencia on Saturday. It's now turned into a very important game for a number of reasons.